The Meow Game, Communicating With Others, and True Believers

The Meow Game from Super Troopers

I have no idea where people get the idea that it’s in any way beneficial to get lippy with cops.  I know some cops like to play mind games with people to see how they’re going to respond, which positively terrifies and paralyzes me.

I have a difficult enough time under normal circumstances carrying on a conversation face to face without freaking people out.  I don’t get the nuances of eye contact (generally I avoid eye contact lest I be accused of staring,) and I also have real problems with sending the right body language.  Non-verbals for me are a learned skill from years of observation and interaction and do not come naturally.  I have to consciously think about and orchestrate all my non-verbal signals constantly when I deal with people face to face in order to communicate effectively.  For most people eye contact and physical gestures come naturally, almost subliminally, without thinking about it.  For me, if left to my own devices, I would simply observe others with a bit of a catatonic stare until or unless I have something to say.  Electronic communication is so much easier for me because I can simply concentrate on what I would like to convey rather than worry about whether or not I’m staring into space or standing at a weird angle.

I may not be responding, but I do hear you- with some reservations.  If I want to, and if I’m not focusing on whatever song’s stuck in my head, that is.

So my interactions with law enforcement (fortunately for me they have been precious few,) are usually limited to staring at the ground or off to the side and saying “yes, sir, Officer” at the appropriate times.  I’ve only gotten out of a speeding ticket once, and that was because I was working as a driver and the cop knew my boss.  Knock on Formica or whatever that plastic looking stuff is, but the last time I got busted for any kind of traffic violation I was nine months pregnant (my son was born on the same day they would have wanted me to appear in court) and was pulled over for running a yellow light.  Of course the cop could obviously tell I was preggers- I looked like a battleship- but all I could do was keep from giving him the stink-eye, sign the damned ticket and keep on going.  I don’t do tears on demand. Even when crying is the correct response, I usually can’t.  I break down after the crisis has passed, and sometimes it takes years for the tears to find their way out.

This strategy- even if I would dare to try it- is not open to me.

I don’t think that crying is the correct response when you get busted anyway, but it works for some women.

I just didn’t have the physical energy or the emotional strength to explain to this primadouche just-out-of-the-academy-looking-for-someone-to-bust cop that going through a yellow light is legal.   The cop didn’t need to know I wasn’t supposed to be driving at all, (I had pre-eclampsia, had been in and out of the hospital for sky-high blood pressure, and was supposed to be on strict bed rest) but I had to go out because my POS ex was too lazy to go to the grocery store, or to help unload the car, or really do much of anything else besides suck up valuable oxygen and whine (yeah, I sure know how to pick ’em, but Jerry is a nominal upgrade to some degree- at least Jerry showers regularly and he hasn’t morphed into Jabba the Hut.)   I sent the bastards their check for $125- because knowing the good-ol-boy system in the town I’m from, you might as well just pay it, because who is the judge going to getting paid to believe? (This was before the days of surveillance cameras everywhere, so I had no way of documenting for posterity that the light was yellow and all that.) It would have been my luck- even had I not been in the hospital that day- that the cop would actually have shown up in court and I’d had to pay the ticket and court costs too.  Sometimes local government sucks just as much as government in higher places.

I can go on with this subject too, but suffice to say I don’t have the gold, so I don’t make the rules.  Too bad.

I am a really paranoid driver, partially because of that incident.  I’d like to drive like I did when I was a young punk out on the back roads, where your worst fear would be running off the road into a drainage ditch, where your nominally decomposed corpse might be found in a few weeks, but those days are over.  The cops have GPS and helicopters now.  Besides, a Yaris isn’t exactly a rally car.

Unless you’re in Thailand.

That is whacked, but I guess with enough suspension mods and such, you could make  a Yaris into a rally car.  But mine is more geared for basic transportation, and as a forum for my mobile political commentary.  Since I have to drive, and I’m pretty slow, some people just might get an education just from reading the back of my car.

German does sound scary, but remember, English is a derivative of German.

I enjoy language and its nuances, probably more so than most because I don’t do well with the non-verbal and emotional sides of communication.  Interacting with dogs has helped me immensely because in order to communicate with them I have to cue in on their non-verbals, which are easier to read because theirs are far more exaggerated than humans’.  I learn a lot from them.  Subtlety is not their nature.

Sheena is as subtle as a freight train.

This morning I was thinking about all the personalities in history who were true believers- in all the wrong things.  I can’t help but to observe that it really doesn’t matter if your heart is in the right place, if your head is up your ass.   A good example of this phenomenon are the crazy people who think that if they die in the process of killing “infidels” that they go to heaven and collect 70 virgins.  Faith is not something that comes easy to me, but I would find it hard to believe that God intends for people to completely check their brains at the door.  Why would God have actually bothered to give us brains if He didn’t intend for us to use them?  And then there’s Dennis Kucinich, for whom logic cannot offer a suitable explanation.  There’s plenty of shithouse-rat-crazy people out there who will believe any sort of clap trap if the right talking head is blathering away (Obama supporters who still don’t get that he’s anti-American, the Heaven’s Gate followers, white supremacists, and so on.)

I wonder if the Visitors have picked him up yet.

I think I get it why so many analytical/rational types are secular humanists.  They get the logic that good is better than evil, but they can’t prove or disprove the existence of a Creator or Higher Power.  The only problem with secular humanism is that it degrades into utilitarianism very quickly.  There is no room in a utilitarian economy for the aesthetic- for beauty, or art, or emotion.  Even though I’m a rational type, even I need something beyond the get up, go to work, go to bed routine that most of us are beholden to.  To deny there is a sphere beyond our understanding is to indulge in the ultimate human hubris- to claim we are the be-all, end-all of the universe- when our best secular explanation for creation involves an ex nihilo big bang from the depths of nowhere.  I’m not a creationist in the 6 days, Adam and Eve made from real mud, wandering naked in the Garden with all the wild animals sense.  It would have been cool, but I don’t think creation happened that way. I don’t take the Garden account of Genesis as being literal (I do believe it to be a beautiful allegory) but I think it does tell us much about the Whom involved, if not so much the How or the Why.

Naked with all the little critters of nature.  Just imagine all the mosquitoes and fleas in places where insects are totally unauthorized.

I would rather acknowledge and embrace the mystery.  I would rather take Pascal’s Wager and assume that God IS, than to have to live in a world having decided that He is not.  While I cannot prove His existence, I cannot disprove it either, and I’d rather err on the side of embracing the mystery.

Belief in and of itself is neutral, but I think that God gave us brains to inform our beliefs, so that we are neither beholden to blind emotionalism or locked into pragmatic utilitarianism.

I do find it a bit ironic that the same people who will defy thousands of years of moral teaching vehemently despise those who still think there is value in that moral teaching, and are enraged when traditionalists speak out.

I’m OK with admitting there are black and whites, and I will gladly share my take on morality should anyone ask.  I know people disagree with me, and vehemently on some issues.  That is their prerogative.  There are some people who don’t believe morality is relevant any more and nothing I say- or that I can back up with scientific fact- is going to change their opinions.  If you want to have a relationship with a Ford Escort, or dress like a furry, or pretty much whatever, as long as you aren’t killing people, you’re not charging me for it, and you leave me alone, knock yourself out.  Just don’t expect me to announce to the world how wonderful your life choices are.

Crazy as Shithouse Rats, and Nightmares from the Service Lane (Part I)

I was sort of mulling over in my head the weird people and bizarre incidents that I’ve experienced in 25 years in the automotive industry.  I’ve always been in what the dealers call the “fixed operations” part of it- parts and service as opposed to selling entire vehicles.  I’m more of a techie type than an emotional, “I wanna sell you stuff ” type- so I’m not going to be good on selling someone on the pretty blue paint job and all the bright, shiny chrome.  I can tell you what a timing belt is, though, and why you are in deep shit trouble if it breaks out in the middle of the freeway. (especially if you own an older Honda with an interference engine, but I digress.)

Generally I try not to use much automotive terminology here,  because most people have absolutely no clue what I’m talking about, unless they’re motorheads too.

Most people are not motorheads and don’t understand the terminology, and I’m not into long and drawn out explanations.  Anyone who drives should know a few basic things (yes, I’ve coordinated car care seminars and I’ve gone through the New Car Checklist with hundreds – salesmen are supposed to do that- but are often too busy ignorant to do so.)  One of the most tragic customers I’ve ever encountered was a college student who had bought an ’87 Tercel (which, admittedly, that year and model was one of the very few of Toyota’s four cylinder cars I would NOT recommend) and was in tears when I had to inform her that the engine was blown and not repairable (when there’s a connecting rod blown clean through the block, the only fix is to replace the entire engine.)  She looked up at me and in all wide-eyed seriousness said, “But I didn’t even put 30,000 miles on it.”  The poor girl had run this car for 15,000 miles without changing the oil, because she thought it was only necessary to change the oil every 30,000 miles.  What was left of the motor oil in this car was a clumpy, burnt-up, coagulated mess stuck to the bottom of the oil pan.  I’m surprised it ran as long as it did before it blew up.  Oh, and decimal places are important.  Just so you know, although most manufacturers have since gone from a 3,000 mile to a 5,000 mile maintenance interval.

I had another guy who contributed to a catastrophic failure on his own car by assuming that just because it’s red and it’s a fluid that it’s automatic transmission fluid.  Had he called me (and he was a good customer of mine) I would have told him that while the stuff that comes out of a Toyota cooling system is red, it’s NOT ATF, and putting ATF in your cooling system is a Very Bad Idea.   That mistake cost him about four grand.   Our tech had to flush his entire cooling system, replace the water pump, head gasket, and power wash just about everything in the entire engine and cooling system that comes in contact with coolant.   All because he was too cheap to pay us to do a $79.95 coolant drain and fill- and that would have included the Toyota Red coolant.  Penny wise (no, not the clown) and pound foolish, no?

This is red.  It goes in your Toyota’s  engine cooling system.

This is also red, but does NOT go in the engine cooling system.  Ever.

Certain vehicles are very prone to acquiring foreign objects in the air intake systems.  I loved the older Camrys, but so did vermin, especially in rural areas.  I don’t know how many air filters we discovered torn to hell and stuffed with dog food.  We also encountered a few blower fans (squirrel cages) that ended up being nesting areas for mice.

Mice and blower fans are not a very good combination.

I worked with a particularly obnoxious primadouche technician one time- well two times, at two different dealerships. Lucky me.  He was a gifted tech, and I would definitely trust him to work on my car, but he was a festering asshole of a human being.  He did have a very glaring weakness for one who works with heavy machinery and sharp things though. He could not stand the sight of blood.   He was working on an older Camry on which the customer complaint was “a rubbing sound when you turn on the blower motor.”  As he pulled the squirrel cage out, to his horror, was a nest of chopped up baby mice- which he dropped on the floor as he ran over to the nearest trash bucket and began projectile vomiting.

Always the inciteful person in the shop, (with my iron guts and the gleeful assumption that I’d found Mr. Primadouche’s Achilles heel,)  I wandered on over to see if he’s just being a pussy, or if I really needed to call the squad.   Being that it was the former rather than the latter, I picked up the squirrel cage, dismembered mouse parts and all, dumped it out in a trash bucket that wasn’t being puked in, and then proceeded to power wash the rest of the guts out in the wash bay.  When Mr. Primadouche was done blowing chunks, I calmly laid the squeaky clean squirrel cage on top of his workbench and went back to checking in my stock order.  The rest of the guys in the shop were rolling on the floor with laughter, that the “parts bitch” had- yet again- shown up Mr. Primadouche.

This was the same douchebag who tossed a Celica exhaust (yep, not just the muffler-this unit was complete from the cat back) across the shop at me because he was pissed that he got the wrong one.  He gave me the wrong information when he ordered it.  I know, I should have made him give me a VIN, and from that moment on, I did exactly that anytime he wanted me to special order anything for him or any of his buddies ever again.  I’m just glad he missed, because that son of a bitch would have left  a mark.

I got a little bit of revenge when he and the washboy were smoking their lunch one fine afternoon.  I never understood why he would sit in his truck and smoke the reefer at lunch when there was a highway patrol station next door, but these two would get high out there every day.  This truck looked like something that belonged in a Cheech and Chong movie.  It was a jacked up fugly old Dodge 4X4 that looked like it had narrowly survived the apocalypse.

The belt molding (where the bottom of the window meets the door frame) was just above my head.  So Cheech and Chong couldn’t see me (though I could clearly see that fine skunkweed smoke billowing out of the cowl panel) as I took a rubber hammer, banged on the driver’s side door, and at the top of my voice screamed, “POLICE!  OUT OF THE TRUCK NOW!!”   As I was running across the lot after the two had fallen out of the truck, I looked back and sort of felt bad because Primadouche had been so scared he wet his pants.

To be continued…